As I first reported to you on March 21st’s Scam of the day, on April 8th Microsoft will stop supporting the Windows XP operating system with security updates and patches. This is very significant because upwards to 95% of ATMs use the Windows XP operating system as do thousands of government websites with which we all do business. Hackers and identity thieves are constantly working to locate and exploit vulnerabilities in computer software toward their criminal ends. Unless the banks using the Windows XP operating system act quickly to upgrade their operating systems to other programs, they will be increasingly vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves. In fact, as Microsoft issues, as they do each month, new security alerts describing the patches we need to install in order to maintain the security of our systems, what Microsoft will also be doing is informing hackers and identity thieves about similar vulnerabilities that exist in the Windows XP program for which there will be not patches or updates.
A new way to breach the security of ATMs was also disclosed this week by the computer security company Symantec. Symantec described a new tactic by which ATMs can be hacked into by a hacker who connects a targeted ATM to his or her smartphone through a USB thereby setting up a connection that can be exploited by sending a command via the phone to the ATM to disperse the cash to the hacker. This problem will only be made worse as security patches cease to be provided in the future for Windows XP.
Whenever you use an ATM always carefully observe the machine for any evidence of tampering and do not use a machine that does look like it has been tampered with by a skimmer or any other visible alteration. Also, regularly check your bank account balances for any evidence of fraud so that you can report the matter as soon as possible to your bank in order to protect yourself from losses. Finally, in regard to the specific issue as to Windows XP and ATMs, ask your bank what operating system they are using and if it is Windows XP, you may wish to find out what ATMs near you do not use this system.